A half marathon takes longer mentally to process than a 5k race recap. So here we are almost a week after my first half marathon since April. In case you don’t feel like reading, I had a good experience with the Air Force Half Marathon.
It was probably one of my best half marathons in the last year, despite not being my fastest, not that I was expecting a PR or anything close. This particular recap has a lot more reflection, and a short recap too.
In the last year I’ve run several half marathons:
Rnr Philadelphia (1:27.37)
Runners World Half (1:24.17) probably my best race performance albeit not my fastest
Beat 539 Half (1:25:28)
Philadelphia Half (1:27.44)
Dallas Half (1:23.44)
Mercedes half (1:27.01)
Shamrock Half (1:26.49)
April Fools Half (1:26.17)
Half marathons are my bread and butter. Unfortunately, the last year never showed the hard work I put into running. Last winter, I was in 1:21-1:22 shape, but I never raced like I was. As I got slower throughout the spring, it ultimately led to my hiatus (which I needed both mentally and physically).
When my husband was selected to run the Air Force Marathon for his command (Air Mobility Command) several months ago, it was in the back of my mind that maybe I would run the half. The summer flew by, and I found myself having done little running. Finally, in August, I had more time and decided I would start easing into running. In order to make it to the start of the Air Force half healthy, I forwent running one of my favorite halves: RnR Va Beach a few weeks prior (2 half marathons in doable when I’m training appropriately…but that fitness is not there right now).
We left the Thursday before. We stopped at my inlaws house in central PA and headed to Dayton, Ohio that Friday. Looking back, we should have left earlier and been in Dayton that Friday. As we got to Wright Patterson, there was traffic, and we nearly missed picking up packets and my husband’s uniform. When I say we were one of the last people to pick things up, it was close. We also ended up walking about 2 miles between 7-8:30pm.
Nothing about that is ideal for a morning race, but my only goal was to support my husband and enjoy 13.1 miles. Whatever happened to me, happened to me.
The morning was uneventful, and we made it to the start by 6:30 (for his 7:30…my 8:30 start). He went to the special Air Force tent, did whatever he does to warm up, and my mother in law and myself headed to the start to spectate.
Not without running over to the start and taking a selfie with him. (There were no corrals, and everything for this massive race is self-seeded, so I didn’t impact anyone’s race).
The marathoners went off, I relaxed for an hour, and per usual randomly chatted with people. I felt no need to warm up considering it was my longest run by 3 miles since April.
Before I knew it, it was my turn to head to the start! I went to the start, and we were off. I had no goal but to finish, and let my body do what it wanted to do. Typically I’ve run my first half back from a break or injury between 1:30-1:33 so that’s what I expected.
The first mile was packed and a blur. I saw several females in front and plenty of males. I hit in a 6:44 and was both surprised and pumped.
Then next few miles, I grabbed Gatorade, and it felt hot. I started running with several men who were also competing in the MAJCOM challenge. One thing I can count on with the Air Force, is they are usually as chatty as I am. We were all just talking for 3 miles about everything from life, to work, to moving. Our miles ranged in pace from 6:29-6:40 and clicked off quickly. We passed 2 women and several other men too. I was feeling strong and confident, but I also knew this wasn’t a 5k and I had a long way to go. I was unpredictable after mile 10.
We hit the halfway point in exactly 43 minutes. The course had zero (and I mean zero) shade, and it was already above 70 degrees and humid. I was glad I wore a hat and sunglasses. My legs weren’t feeling bad or fatigued, but the heat was starting to affect me.
Around mile 9, we climbed an overpass, and I wasn’t expecting any climbs or any hills at all. I hadn’t done research but mentally had assumed all Air Force races must take place on flat runways and flat bases. That thought process didn’t really have any basis and was in fact, foolish.
The last four miles of the Air Force half is harder part of the course. I looked ahead at the hill and saw one female, and just tunnel focused on passing her and staring at the top. I did both, caught my breath, and continued. That was my slowest mile, in 6:46.
At the 10 mile point, I told myself: the half marathons are your bread and butter. All that’s left is the 5k butter. The 5k I haven’t run in the months. The 5k I’m known in my best fitness to hammer and pass people. I wasn’t going to let it break me, and I felt too good. I hit the 10 mile in 1:07 and told myself a 1:27 is in your wheelhouse today.
Despite not researching the next three miles were hilly, I was determination to get there. You enter back onto to Wright Patterson Base around mile 12. They begin the finishers shoot at mile 12. Mile 12. I told myself I wouldn’t even care if the course was short. I knew it wouldn’t be, but my legs would be cool with less running.
Being in a mile long finishers shoot is soul crushing. You are alone, spectators around, and you’re struggling. Maybe you aren’t struggling so you look strong, but I was as I should be. One woman outkicked me in the last half mile. Too bad, she won our age group and was the fourth female. I didn’t have the kick to catch her.
I crossed the finish in 1:27.28 and fifth female overall. It far exceeded the expectation I had for the race. Not my fastest half but not my slowest either, but definitely one of my most fun. The heat affected the half marathons but definitely affected the full marathoners much more. My husband ran a 3:15 and my father in law squeezed into BQ in a 3:58.
Apparently, I decided to nap and close my eyes right there…
I would love to run the Air Force Half again when I’m in better fitness because I do believe it’s a course I would excel at. I have a feeling we will probably be back, but T might be competing for a different MAJCOM command.
I’ve recovered moderately well from the half, and for the next five weeks, I’ll focus on 5ks, followed by the Runners World Half.
Questions for you:
Do you typically talk during races?
I’m a talker during halves and fulls…not 5ks